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Lasting Powers of Attorney - are you covered?

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Having spent my weekend shopping around for better house insurance deals, I started thinking about all the insurance policies I have in place. I insure my house, health, travel, life, car and mobile phone and I expect I am not alone as these are all fairly common necessities. However something that too few people think about doing is making Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). They are, in my view, a very important type of insurance.

There are two types of LPA; one deals with your property and financial affairs and the other deals with your health and welfare. You can make one or both.

By making a LPA you legally appoint a trusted person (or persons) to be your Attorney. Appointing Attorneys is often confused with appointing Executors in your Will. An Executor’s role only begins once a person has died, whereas an Attorney’s role is during one’s lifetime. An Attorney’s role is to step into your shoes and to make decisions, on your behalf, in respect of your finances (consulting you first if possible and always acting in your best interests) or making a decision about your health and welfare in any situation where you cannot make the decision for yourself.

When I ask people if they have thought about making LPAs, the response I usually receive is:- “There’s plenty of time for that. We’ll think about that when we’re older.”

But as too many of us know, there is a very fine line between leaving something until the right time and leaving it until it is too late. This is why the law steps in and makes people insure their cars before they drive on the road and mortgage lenders insist on adequate property insurance before lending. They do not leave it to the public to take out insurance when they anticipate having an accident or expect their house is more likely to be damaged.

Insurance is something we hope we will never have to use but we have it in place just in case it is ever needed. Lasting Powers of Attorney should be thought of in the same way. I hope that I will never lose the ability to make decisions for myself or lose the ability to write my own cheques but I would prefer to know that if that situation did happen one day, I have already appointed people I trust to step in and take over or help me with my affairs. I am not prepared to gamble away my financial stability and my well being.

If a financial LPA is not put in place and a person loses the capacity to deal with their own finances, their family or friends will have to apply to the Court of Protection to become their financial Deputy to access their finances and manage them. Becoming a Deputy is time consuming, costly and it can be stressful. Is that really a burden you want to place on your family and friends? Surely it would be better to choose the person you think is most appropriate for the job and to discuss it with them. To me, having LPAs in place gives me peace of mind in knowing that I’m covered.

If you would like to talk to somebody at Dawson Hart about making LPAs or to find out more about them, then please call us on 01825 762281 and we will be happy to help.